Category Archives: Personal Photos

There are all pictures I took during my study abroad and additional trips! I hope you enjoy them!

Paris Round 2

Part 1

Sunday the 10th of July, I was at work when I got a call from my aunt. I hadn’t had a call from her in awhile so I was concerned that she had something important to tell me, something that couldn’t wait. Answering the phone I was relieved to hear my aunt beaming through the phone asking, “Do you have a minute for a quick question?” Stepping out of ear shot from my coworkers I said, “I’m at work but sure. What do you want to ask?” My aunt said, “Do you want to go to Paris with me in a couple days?” I was flooded with excitement until a tidal wave of realization crashed my beach party. I had to work. My heart sinking, I told my aunt I’d call her back after I asked my managers.

I immediately called my scheduling manager, told her everything that had just happened, and said, “I fell awful that I’ll have to turn down the offer. I don’t think that I’ll be allowed the time off because I didn’t -couldn’t- give any notice sooner.” Laughing my manager asked, “Why would you give up the opportunity of a lifetime? It’s not everyday that a relative calls asking you to come to a foreign country with them! We’ll be fine.” She had a point, I didn’t want to say no to my aunt, and she told me to call our general manager to see if she would be okay with me going on the trip. During that phone call, I was told, “What are you crazy?! We’ll be fine! Go to Paris!” Approved to go on the trip, I hastily called my aunt to tell her I was allowed to go.

Two days later, on Tuesday the 12th, I boarded a plane to Paris with my aunt. She explained to me that getting to Paris was the easy part because we were traveling with my uncle, a pilot for Delta, but getting home could be a tad tricky since he would be leaving early. I was just excited to travel again. (I was going through withdrawal after returning from my study abroad and felt disheartened.) To top off my nearly overflowing excitement, we were bumped up to first class (also called the business class)! Here is what my seat looked like!

My Seat
My Seat
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The seats were wonderful! If you ever get the chance to fly first class, take it! It’s worth it! There’s plenty of leg room, a pillow and fluffy blanket were waiting in each seat, there’s a goody bag (with an eye mask, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, among other items), and a personal television that folded out towards me. I really appreciated that the chairs were adjustable and that there was a small table median separating me from the person next to me.

Of course I wanted a photo with my aunt, and my uncle was kind enough to take this picture for me. Then he insisted that I come see the cockpit and meet his coworkers.

Picture in the Cock Pit
Picture in the Cock Pit
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All of my uncle’s coworkers were very nice. One even lent me his pilot’s hat for one of my pictures!

Once back to my seat I was greeted with a mimosa and given an in-flight menu. I took pictures to show you because the menu is too long to scan. (The stewardess let me keep my menu as a souvenir!) My favourite part of the meal was the amazing ice cream dessert with graham cracker and chocolate toppings!

In Flight Dining Menu
In Flight Dining Menu
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I read my textbook and wrote notes as we flew, and had a relaxing nap. Once we landed in Paris we took a shuttle to the Pullman Hotel where my aunt and I stayed with my uncle. The hotel was decorated with colourful furniture and had a cart of sweets that looked like a pedal bike ice cream cart. The hotel breakfast was incredible! So many foods I’d never had before were available and I was excited to try more traditional French pastries and other delights.

Pullman Hotel ParisPhoto Courtesy of Abovav.com
Pullman Hotel ParisPhoto Courtesy of Abovav.com
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After getting our bags settled at the hotel we then walked to the nearest underground station. My aunt and uncle went through the emergency procedure in case we got separated on the underground. If we were separated we would get out at the next stop and wait for the person left behind to meet up and find us. If we didn’t find each other within half an hour we would meet up at the last place we saw each other, and if that didn’t work after an hour we’d go back to the hotel.

Although it seems pretty straight forward it was a good thing we went over it because we immediately lost my uncle on the metro. After some running around, trying to get a wifi signal, and frantically trying to take the metro back to our original station, we found my uncle again and we made sure to walk onto the next metro at the same time. We hopped off the metro a few stations down and walked up to the Arc de Triomphe.

Approaching The Arc de Triomphe
Approaching The Arc de Triomphe
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From the Arc we took the metro towards the Royal Palace, and got out a stop early so that we could see the buildings encompassing the palace.

Approaching the Palace and the Louvre
Approaching the Palace and the Louvre
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The line for the Louvre was long, as usual, and I told my aunt and uncle, “If we were to go to the Louvre I would want to spend at least a whole day there. That way I could appreciate all of the art I want to see. But I don’t want to spend the little time I have here with you in a museum line.” They agreed with me and so we took some photos and continued on.

The Palace and the Louvre
The Palace and the Louvre
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I loved taking pictures of the palace and the surrounding gardens. People treated the gardens similarly to a public park (although much cleaner than a public park usually is) and many were sitting in folding beach chairs browning in the brilliant sunlight.

Palace Statues
Palace Statues
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We decided to walk towards Notre Dame and see what spurred our interest along the way, but for the sake of not making a gigantic post. I’ll put those pictures into the next post. Enjoy these pictures of the gardens and the palace!

Sunning
Sunning
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England with Stewart

The day before our London trip, a friend of mine took Stewart and me to a football match in Ipswich. We were rooting for the Queen’s Park Rangers! Great day!
Ipswich V Queen's Park Rangers
Ipswich V Queen's Park Rangers
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Kicking off our day in London, I took Stewart to see the British Parliament and Big Ben.
Big Ben
Big Ben
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Westminster Abbey was next on our list.
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
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I love horses, so of course I took Stewart to the Royal Mounted Guard.
Royal Mounted Guard
Royal Mounted Guard
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Here are some pictures I took while wandering London with Stewart.
Walking London
Walking London
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Naturally I took Stewart to Buckingham Palace. Some of the pictures are very dark since the sun set while we were walking around.
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
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Stewart and I love playing with legos, and I wanted to show him the amazing displays at Harrods.
Harrods Lego Display
Harrods Lego Display
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Stewart and I didn’t ride the London Eye together, although I did ride it with Elizabeth. Part of our study abroad program included a trip to the London Eye. It was fun going with Elizabeth and being able to take pictures from a different angle. The London Eye is like any other large Ferris Wheel.
London Eye Trip
London Eye Trip
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After a wonderful day in London with Stewart, we went back to Reading. I was able to capture a beautiful sunset the day after our London trip. I just wanted to share it with you.
Reading Sunset
Reading Sunset
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The Secret Garden

I really enjoyed the University of Reading campus. Washington state has a lot of forests and I love the trees. The campus has many trees and a lake. While walking around the lake my friend told me about the secret garden on campus. I had to see it, and my friend helped me find it. Here are the pictures I took.
University of Reading Garden
University of Reading Garden
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I found a hedge maze in the middle of the garden. There’s also a circle of trees with a bench in the center, it’s a calming place to sit.
University of Reading Garden
University of Reading Garden
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I love the little pond in the garden.
University of Reading Garden
University of Reading Garden
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A Day in Budapest

Stewart and I took a night train from Prague to Budapest. I should’ve known this train ride wouldn’t go as well as the one from Vienna to Prague. Stewart has a hard time getting to sleep and I don’t sleep well in public places either. A plane ticket cost as much as a private sleeper cabin, so I thought I’d try to save some money and get regular seats on the train. Wrong! Next time I will just buy the plane ticket. Learned my lesson.

The two of us were so tired we couldn’t honestly handle much. Time was limited also, so we decided to take a bus tour around the town. Oh I forgot to mention that we were in Budapest for Christmas Eve. This is important to mention because almost all shops and businesses are closed or at least close extra early. It was also an extra cold day in Budapest and even my winter coat wasn’t able to keep me warm. Here are the pictures from the tour.

Budapest Keleti Railway Station
Budapest Keleti Railway Station
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Bus Tour Around Budapest
Bus Tour Around Budapest
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Bus Tour Around Budapest
Bus Tour Around Budapest
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After a couple hours’ wait we finally got checked into our flight and started the journey back to London.
Flying Back to London
Flying Back to London
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Two Days in Prague, Czech Republic

Having sent my application for study abroad, I began to think about the other places I would want to visit while in England. Prague was very high on my list. It actually tied with Scotland and Ireland. I was so excited to see Prague because I had seen pictures before and since I heard about the Bone Chapel. I’ll go into more detail when I show the pictures. Since Stewart couldn’t come on the Scotland-Ireland trip, I made sure that we would see one of the other places he was interested in. To be fair to Stewart, he was interested in Prague after I showed him pictures and talked about the chapel. Prague may not have been top on his list, but he was open to going where ever I wanted to go. Lucky for both of us Prague was one of our favourite places!

Here are pictures I took while we were walking from our hotel to the Astronomical Clock. (The clock is actually more of an astrological clock since it represents the zodiac, but every time I tried researching it “corrected” to astronomical.)
Walking to the Astronomical Clock
Walking to the Astronomical Clock
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I only recently discovered that I love clocks. Pocket watches have always been a love of mine, but clocks in general didn’t strike me until I saw Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell inside the tower of the British Parliament building) in person.  This clock ignites my passion in a whole different way. It’s lower to the ground, so I can appreciate its beauty and craftsmanship up closer. The clock is more artistic and colourful. As an added bonus the clock actually moves and chimes much like a grandfather clock at certain times.

Astronomical Clock
Astronomical Clock
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The Christmas Market in Old Prague Square was in full swing. The leather market is amazing in Prague which I didn’t realize until I came across a leather glove stand. I bought myself some handmade Wine red gloves for only $15 and they are perfect. They fit perfect, match one of my purses perfect, and are super soft. Look around the local markets for souvenirs! Most of the stands, and even some stores, will haggle prices too.
Old Prague Square
Old Prague Square
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Prague was the first city I’d been to where I got to see street performers. Other cities had their beggars but these people were very creative and talented. One of them looked just like my friend from home, and that confused me.
Street Performers
Street Performers
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There are so many sites to see in Prague that I knew I’d have to write out a list for myself and Stewart. Even with a list I made sure to take time to just wander the city with Stewart.
Walking through Prague
Walking through Prague
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Even with a list I made sure to take time to just wander the city with Stewart.
Walking through Prague
Walking through Prague
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There were some really interesting shops, such as a marionette store.
Walking through Prague
Walking through Prague
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Stewart and I searched for the Old Jewish Cemetery that has been built over 7 times. It has extravagant tomb stones, and is apparently really hard to find. The one that my hotel map showed me was an old Jewish graveyard but it wasn’t the one I was looking for. So we made our way to Prague Castle. We weren’t able to tour the inside because it was late but that’s okay. Next time we visit Stewart and I will have to find the proper cemetery and tour the castle.
To Prague Castle at Night
To Prague Castle at Night
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By serendipitous accident, we walked into the annual pillow fight celebration! Apparently every year (the date isn’t actually set in stone) hundreds gather in Old Prague Square and have a massive pillow fight when the Astronomical Clock goes off at a specific time. When researching it later I realized how special the event was, because it isn’t always on the same date. Stewart and I just happened to be so lucky as to go to Prague during the same time, and to walk in on the celebration! It was the 22nd of December 2015 at 8pm. A local explained that the celebration was just for fun and that it draws a lot of tourists due to its strangeness. I loved it! I honestly believe that you should go and attend this celebration! Bring a feather pillow! It was too dark to take pictures and it was hard to capture the white feathers looking like snow as they fell onto Old Prague Square.
Old Prague Square
Old Prague Square
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Day two was kicked off by waking up early to go on a tour through Kutna Hora. Being only about an hour out of Prague Kutna Hora is the home of the Bone Chapel! I was so excited to finally see it for myself.
Kutna Hora Tour!
Kutna Hora Tour!
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The chapel is made of the bones of the victims of the plague. Since the chapel and graveyard surrounding it were becoming overloaded with the bones, the landowners hired artist František Rint in 1870 to do something with the remains while still honouring the dead. After Rint said that his sculptures remind all who look at it that we all are the same in the end.
Sedlec Ossuary
Sedlec Ossuary
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We wandered Kutna Hora after the Bone Chapel. Our tour guide was amazing! She has been giving these tours three times a week for the last five years!
Walking Kutna Hora
Walking Kutna Hora
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I’m glad that Stewart and I didn’t take the tour that only took us to Sedlec Ossuary because Kutna Hora is beautiful. The tour we took included a three course lunch and admission into all the sites we visited. The whole tour only cost $11 per person (in U.S. dollar conversion) and it was a great deal! Lunch was amazing and it wasn’t the end of our tour.
To St Barbara's Cathedral
To St Barbara's Cathedral
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Saint Barbara’s Cathedral is one of my favourite cathedrals. We were free to take our own pictures, and we were the only group in the building at the time. The artwork was stunning and it was so bright. Not many cathedrals I’ve visited are brightly lit.
St Barbara's Cathedral
St Barbara's Cathedral
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I especially loved that I was able to take nice pictures of the stained glass.
Saint Barbara's Cathedral Stained Glass
Saint Barbara's Cathedral Stained Glass
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Saint Barbara's Cathedral
Saint Barbara's Cathedral
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Two Days in Prague

Two Days in Vienna, Austria

Lucky for me I have a friend from Vienna, Benedikt! On multiple occasions he told me that he’d be happy to show me around Vienna if I wanted to visit. I’d hear so much about the beautiful city that I wanted to see it for myself. Benedikt kindly helped me find the hotel, Hotel Mercure Josefshof Wien, and showed me where to meet him.

The hotel was lovely! It was tucked away just off Auerspergstraße street on Josefsgasse street. Away from the noisier street but still close to the sights we has in mind, it was perfect. The room was spacious, comfortable, and clean. The staff was exceptionally nice too. I would highly recommend you stay there if you go.Hotel Mercure Josefshof Wien

Anyway, when we first arrived we had lunch and then started our tour around the city. Since it was late December it got dark rather fast but the whole city was lit with Christmas lights and decorations. I loved the Mozart stores. We saw a street performer playing an electric broom.
Our First Night in Vienna
Our First Night in Vienna
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Benedikt lead us to Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. What I love so much about this cathedral is all the intricate work and design that went into every single piece of it. The roof tiles, the carvings in the stone, and the fact that it was lit up at night. We did go inside but, since mass was in session, we couldn’t walk very far in to see all the artwork. This cathedral is a must see when you visit Vienna!
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral
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We continued to wander around the city, looking at all the decorations and shops.
Wandering Vienna
Wandering Vienna
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Benedikt is a history buff and on top of taking us to all the beautiful sites around Vienna he taught us the history of the glorious city that was once the center of one of the biggest empires. Our tour led us to the Hofburg Palace.
Hofburg Palace
Hofburg Palace
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Also a big lover of holiday time celebrations, Benedikt took us to the Rathaus (city hall) for the large Christmas market. The market was full of wonderful souvenirs but I had to contain myself, so I got my sister an aqua dream catcher. She collects them and I knew she’d love it! We had some wonderful mulled wine and got to keep the heart shaped mugs it came in.
The Rathaus City Hall
The Rathaus City Hall
There was a large Christmas Market set up in front of the city hall.
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We walked just down the road from the Christmas Market to the Museums Quartier. It was lit with colour changing orbs in the trees and projections against the buildings. Next time we visit I would love to visit all the art museums here.
Museumsquartier
Museumsquartier
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Benedikt took us to dinner at a wonderful traditional restaurant, and after he took us to his favourite bar in Vienna. The bar is in the attic of the 25hours hotel and it is beautifully decorated to embrace this. All manner of things you’d expect to find in an attic are strategically placed around the bar. The service and drinks were great. Another must see when you go to Vienna. It offers an outstanding skyline view of the city.
To the Attic Bar
To the Attic Bar
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Day two was dedicated to Schönbrunn Palace. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Christmas market set up in front of the palace was sublime. I bought myself a mini quill and ink set and a miniature parchment notebook to go with it. Stewart bought his mother an authentic hand crafted nutcracker for Christmas. She collects them and we both knew she’d love it!
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
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Touring the Palace took hours but was well worth the money and time. The palace is modeled after Versailles but is still very unique. I actually liked Schönbrunn Palace more than Versailles, because it didn’t feel so forced. The palace was stunning and didn’t have to prove it to anyone by being flashy. There was more modern art and the rooms all looked very different from each other. It was set up to feel as though I was walking through the daily life of the last emperors of Austria, Franz Joseph I and Charles I. We weren’t able to take pictures during the tour so you’ll have to check it out for yourself. We walked around the grounds after our tour and took pictures of the Gloriette among other things. Also on palace grounds, is the oldest zoo in mainland Europe! 
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
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Our palace tour tickets included admission into the zoo so of course we had to visit! I loved the tropical animals exhibit but I couldn’t take any pictures since my camera kept fogging up. We got to see so many animals!
Beavers!
Beavers!
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Having seen the zoo, we met back up with Benedikt and had a cup of tea before it was time for our train to Prague. Vienna was wonderful and I’m so happy we went. Thank you so much Benedikt for all your help and for showing us your beautiful city!

 

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Two Days in Austria

A Day in Amsterdam, Netherlands

I apologize ahead of time for the lack of photos. My camera lost a good portion of the photos I took before I was even able to try to put them on the computer. Here is what I do have though.

Walking Amsterdam
Walking Amsterdam
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We visited the Anne Frank House which was both depressing and uplifting. Anne Frank was an inspiring person but the tragedy surrounding her life can be overwhelming. Make sure that you are mentally prepared when going in to the tour. Well worth the time and cost, just be prepared.

A Day in Amsterdam

 

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A Day in Brussels

A Day in Brussels

Our second day of travel we took the coach to Brussels. When we arrived, we put our luggage in our room in Meininger Hotel. The hotel was amazing! Yes it’s set up like a hostel so that there are six beds to a room, but each room has it’s own bathroom complete with a shower. The whole place was spacious and spotless! 10 out of 10 I would recommend the Meininger Hotel! From there we walked down Quai du Hainaut and turned right onto N9.

Walking to the Christmas Market
Walking to the Christmas Market
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The N9 turned into Rue Antoine Dansaert and that turned into Rue Auguste Orts, and it was a straight walk that us straight to La Bourse and the Christmas Market surrounding it. Stopping to have dinner at Old Wild West Steak House, before shopping at the market stands in front of Saint Nicholas Church.

La Bourse
La Bourse
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We continued down the right hand road of Rue Henri Maus. Taking a left at Rue du Midi and then a right down a smaller unnamed road just before standing in front of Saint Nicholas Church. I was able to take a picture of Le Comptoir de Mathilde, where we had bought our chocolate from earlier in the day, as we passed by.Le Comptoir de Mathilde Brussels

Daytime picture courtesy of TripAdvisor via https://www.tripadvisor.fr/Attraction_Review-g656144-d4754535-Reviews-Le_comptoir_de_Mathilde-Tulette_Drome_Rhone_Alpes.html

To the Grand Place
To the Grand Place
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To finish off our day in Brussels we watched the Christmas Lightshow in the Grand Place and took a long trek to the Delirium Cafe for some drinks. The cafe has a pink elephant on its signs and the bar hosts 2,000+ beers on sight! It currently still holds the world record for its selection.

Creepy Moving Window Display
Creepy Moving Window Display